Goldwork is the most regal and luxurious of embroidery techniques. Once accessible only to the wealthy, goldwork embroidery was used historically to adorn ecclesiastical textiles, military uniforms, and clothing and textiles for the nobility.
Today, goldwork is more accessible than it used to be, and is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity as a popular needlework technique.
Goldwork differs from other surface embroidery techniques especially when considering the threads used. Unlike threads from natural or man-made fibers (cotton, wool, silk, rayon…), the threads used in goldwork are made from real metal. With some types of goldwork threads, the metal is wrapped around a fiber core, while with other types of metal threads, the whole “thread” is all metal.
Often, goldwork is combined with silk shading, so that rich color accompanies the gold.